Four months and 20 Days

Four months and Twenty days
By Paul A Fischer

When I can feel the plunge,
 into that forbidden abyss
 my breath comes up fast
 my heart beats strong
I begin the uncontrolled lunge
 a fast twist

To finishing the exhilaration
  of secrets long forgotten
and just contemplation
 sinks me into jealous bliss

I know it’s no shit
 Because of the oceans
Brimming over feiry sunsets
 Mixing into salty potions
Tear drops roll against outstanding debts

I know it’s no shit because of the
 Dime sized pools, irises blessed
With transcendental light
 Exhaling upward as long hair
Twinkles like forgotten
 Stars burning bright
On my bare chest

But then your gone
 And I lose control
I’m ready to accept
 The madness we elect
To undergo to keep

What I have now,
 Your hot jealous lips
Beating with my every
Keeping with the rythm of
 My heart
Choking me like a christmas
Blinding me with a dazzling

That’s how I know
 I can wait
That’s how I know
 Four months and
Twenty days,
 The love you give,
I’ll take.

Satan’s Cookie Chest (2010)

Satan’s Cookie Chest 
Paul Fischer

It shines bright red,

like the wet lips
gifted to Adam’s mortal sin.
The soft sweet bread
bleeds within while
enticing swollen hips
draw me slowly in.

Satan’s cookie chest
waits quietly in the corner
resting precariously
but peacefully
on a trembling brink
of  forgotten abyss 
in unspoken terror
ready to tumble.

It sparkles with lightning,
booms with the thunder
of silent aurora,
but then pandora 
would go the way of the leper.

Satan is too exquisite
for that plebeian path.

A plop in the distance.
You can feel small
spelunking in that box.

Dark green with the dread
of burning sips
from the lamp of Aladdin.
Goldman Sachs shines inside,
manipulates and controls.
In that chest are mortgages,
spun up and sold
like so many souls 
lost forever to the Lord.

College loans marriage proceed
like the plastic bride
bound to Satan’s denizens,
all squelching, depriving a nation
of vigilant citizens.
Mahogany lined by velvet
quietly invites trips
dangerous as Wayne’s last gram.
Pungent, a people disabled.
Poisoned adrenaline.

Like Kobain’s last hit of heroin
lost in the swell of the rest
sailing above like a lark,
under a wave
crashing on a grave beach,
submerged, lest
it slow down to a creek
trickling into the palm
of a sweaty card shark.

A rush in the instant
makes you feel so tall,
that theres no fear even of the rocks.

Satan likes to play
his favorite toy,
the one you chose,
mind still clouded, muddled,
waits behind the door.
That chest is locked, 
but not yet closed.

Aggressive like a beetle
that hurriedly scuttles,
snakes that unabashedly slink
under briefcases,
fill with lives bought,
steal the last thought
from those who don’t need
to think.

Subsisting on faces
of races piled in sync,
as the same hands beating,
the thunder of an iron drum
eat the last crumb
from the trembling hands
of those who can’t afford
to lose.

Different paths
aren’t really there to choose. 

So sweet
in itself
but still lost
in the heavenly realms.
Satan’ in heat
and hes ready to fuck
stay the hell out of his box.

Poem in style of TS Eliot (2010): Paul Andreas Fischer in Mrs. Ledoux’s poetry class

flags worn thin and bloodied
Burn under the brother with red eyes and corn rows
like the bush of moses
psychosis inducing love grows
a finishing plan
from  above
To protest the innocence of a guilty man
White devils dance to the trumpets of fallen angels
Squelched by the poverty,
Stifled by the ignorance,
 of Lackadaisical, self-pity swelling 
Until, poison creeps
Down the face in unspeakable agony.
where Bleeding tears pool,
wolves circle 
like a snarling chain

Sexually exploiting affability,

Socially exploiting temper,
Pressurized by the black viability
Of darker violations,
That cut like a shard of redemption.
Until, exploding with vice,
Melting like the Fukushima crisis

flags worn thin and bloodied
Burn under the brother with red eyes and corn rows
like the bush of moses
psychosis inducing love grows
a finishing plan
from  above
To protest the innocence of a guilty man
White devils dance to the trumpets of fallen angels
Squelched by the poverty,
Stifled by the ignorance,
 of Lackadaisical, self-pity swelling 
Until, poison creeps
Down the face in unspeakable agony.
where Bleeding tears pool,
wolves circle 
like a snarling chain

The steady warm chants
and the perverted priestly touch
Of Satan echo in the halls of the lord,
He is lost, and has no return.
All the kings Doctors and all the kings nurses
Won’t save him: devil-crossed.

flags worn thin and bloodied
Burn under the brother with red eyes and corn rows
like the bush of moses
psychosis inducing love grows
a finishing plan
from  above
To protest the innocence of a guilty man
White devils dance to the trumpets of fallen angels
Squelched by the poverty,
Stifled by the ignorance,
 of Lackadaisical, self-pity swelling 
Until, poison creeps
Down the face in unspeakable agony.
where Bleeding tears pool,
wolves circle 
like a snarling chain

The best potion, a mixture of loneliness and
Screaming in pain as dancing fools
And singing devils
Tear his very soul from its essence
In the twinkling firelight
Under blazing stars
Leaving those who behold
Circled with evil,
Disgusted and hopelessly broken,
Parched to the point of suffocation in the desert sun.

Finding Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s Presence in Frankenstein.

Paul Fischer
Humanities III

Finding Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s Presence in Frankenstein.

    Two hundred years ago, the chains of sexism weighed so heavily on women that Mary Shelley, a progressive writer, created a terrible monster to signify these bonds. Rather than attempt to point out the inherent inequality on society, she displayed in full graphic detail the horrendous effect of sexual prejudice on her own life. She created a world and a fantasy where Shelley’s own character was made male, but haunted by a monster. This is the premise and goal of Frankenstein, to measure the effect of sexual bias on an individual. Specifically, Frankenstein is haunted by the Monster, representing Mary Shelley’s own existence chained by the sexist demands of her society. This interpretation of the novel is supported by numerous inferences that can be made from the text, namely the intense similarity of Frankenstein to Shelly, of the Monster’s pestilence to the bonds of Shelley’s society, and the effect of the monster on Frankenstein.
    Frankenstein, haunted by the images of the monster, falls sick until Clerval, a childhood friend, comes to his rescue and nurses him to health (81-99). In this we see the literal physical comparison of Shelley and Frankenstein. Shelley believed that she was sick, haunted by her childhood, represented by the monster, and Clerval represented her answer to the sickness. Furthermore, Frankenstein’s mother dies early in his life; Mary Shelley never knew her mother. Indeed, certain passages read like a Shelley’s attempt to theorize what her mother might have been like, and to deal with her loss, writing, “My mother was dead, but we still had duties which we ought to perform; we must continue our course with the rest, and learn to think ourselves fortunate.” (58) The passage, which is riddled with rhetorical questions to communicate Frankenstein’s loss, is one of many that extensively details the physical and environmental similarities of Mary Shelley to the character she created, Frankenstein. Comparisons between the two have no reason to stop there, however, as Shelley makes sure the connection is present by completing the circuit and providing us with a close view of her personal emotions through the story.
    A snapshot of Mary Shelley’s life might include high philosophy and manic depression. The effect of combining eccentricity and free living in Shelley’s immediate family as her bachelor father struggled to provide parenting to the girl is also seen in Frankenstein, who lost his mother at a young age and was finally sent to school (56). Perhaps Mary Shelley, like da Vinci and Mona Lisa, is creating an opposite sex mirror of herself in Frankenstein. Yet while Frankenstein was not bound by the chains of sexist Victorian society the way Shelley was, he certainly finds himself bound by his own eccentric invention. Just as Shelley’s cognizance of her husband’s activities pains her, so is Frankenstein’s considerable intelligence painful to him. He realizes the massive trouble that he has started with his experiment and has reason to be afraid as the monster he created kills his family.
    Mary Shelley was helpless in her attempts to reason or think through the conventions of her time; she had no choice but to accept the degradation. Frankenstein has the power in his own society, envied by all his peers, yet the monster is the unpredictable source of his continued pain. “The monster whom I had created, the miserable daemon … I was possessed by a maddening rage when I thought of him.” (280) Surely this is similar to how Mary Shelley felt as she was put down by her society and ignored by all the male figures in her life.
    Mary Shelley’s father and mother were both famous writers. Although of completely different genres, both were adamantly progressive. She grew up in an environment of laissez-faire and was perhaps didn’t understand the purpose of marriage until she herself fell in love with a young admirer of her father.  When the young student turned out to be less than faithful, Mary Shelley responded with considerable wrath. Unfortunately she was squashed by her inability to effectively take any action against her husband. During her long stay in the Alps, the inequality of her situation is evident in her writing. It caused her to think about what sort of person she might have been if she had been a man, and what a burden her sexist society placed on her. Victor was Mary Shelley incarnated in her writing as a man, the monster his burden.
    The monster also parallels the bonds of Shelley’s society by limiting Victor Frankenstein’s career. Mary Shelley surely felt the pain of having her writing rejected merely for her sexuality. She makes a statement because Victor’s infatuation with the monster reflects the obsession that some women held with there place in the family as the “angel” of the house. She believes that though women tried very hard, even obsessed over making their families perfect, the fruit of their labors was little more than a monster. Frankenstein works for weeks on the monster, his “cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement.” (73). Yet when his labors were complete, he “dreaded to behold the monster.” (83) Rather than creating a functional superhuman, with superior mental and physical capability, Frankenstein is presented by a horrendous mistake, the desecration that his peers warned him of. Rather than owning up and accepting his wretched lot, he attempts to run away from the monster.
   The obsession and dedication that women were required to have in Victorian society surfaces in Shelley’s Victor but the monster proves that the efforts are truly fruitless. When the two are combined, a powerful moral lesson is delivered by Mary Shelley. Victor’s desertion of the monster is obviously a reference to the midlife crisis that many people go through. Mary Shelley is warning is warning the frustrated women of the pain of laissez-faire, a principle she was raised by, but the reasoning became confused as she found the man she loved would not love her alone. Victor’s marriage, his profession and his life are destroyed when he attempts to simply leave the monster. The point is that one can’t walk away from their problems, but must indeed spend as much time and effort unraveling the trouble as they did creating it.
    The reader is left to wonder what in the world might have happened if the monster had been embraced by Frankenstein. While Victor would certainly have to raise his head above the jeers of his fellow scientists, he might have also provided important technology for science in the study of biology and medicine. Instead, he inspires a vendetta executed by a godless killing machine. If he’d the same obsession about taming the monster as he’d had in creating it, Frankenstein would not have had such a grisly timbre. Projecting her own relationships and life into her story, Mary Shelley has provided us with a masterful insight on how even that which we love and cherish can quickly turn against us when obsession turns to disgust.

Symbols (2008?)

Paul Andreas Fischer and Nona Anne Farris

Refined Dress Code

Steven’s obsession with his dress reflects the importance of dignity in his life. He needs order, not just in the clothes he wears, but also in the actions of his life. When those around him like Ms. Canton and his master leave Stevens’ logical order of life he begins to lose faith in his insular world. The dress code ultimately symbolizes the complete conformity of the household. With this conformity come the idea of a stately manner, which manifests itself in the dress code and that is what makes it an important symbol throughout the book. As the book progresses the refined dress code remains unchanged and is a constant that follows Stevens all throughout his life. This in stark contrast to the slow devolution of his masters sympathy to the Nazis.
Misplacement of the China man doll
The misplacement of the China man doll represents the deterioration of Mr. Steven Sr.’s mind and service. This is almost a revelation to the others in the household that Mr. Stevens is not what he once was; he is not immortal but just a human as everyone else. Although his work was amazing in perfection he was capable of mistake and this would be the first of many to come.  Sadly, he died before his retirement. This can be blamed on the stubbornness of not only himself, but also his son because neither of them believed the master would sustain a home for them after they stopped being of assistance. We cant know whether their suspicions were well founded, but the china doll does represent the beginning of the end of Stevens’ service.
Stevens takes a ride through the country side and this is one of his first experiences traveling for his own pleasure. His entire life has been insulated in service to his master. It is partially because of his sedentary lifestyle that he loses the woman he loves, and remained ignorant of his mater’s nazi sympathies. His ignorance continues to stop him from forming his own opinions. This in turn holds him from becoming his own person since he is entirely absorbed in this great image of his lord. When he begins to doubt his lord’s righteousness, it is already after he begins to travel from his house, and for practical reasons too late to reclaim his youth. He is now past the age where he can enjoy life, and his diligence appears to have been in service of a great evil: the Nazi party.
Work Ethic
Stevens’ work ethic is beyond a healthy level, he is so intensely devoted to his master and the work about the house that he has little time for anything else. Due to his obsession he suffers from the absence of social activity and abandons every opportunity of a normal life. His withdrawal from the outside world prevents him from realizing the distractions that have lead others in the household astray. This isolation of Stevens in many ways is what held him to his strict and respected work ethic. His work ethic is so intense its like a chain holding him to the house. He doesn’t really mind working hard, but becomes troubled when he discovers there is more to life and to morality than mere diligence. This is most apparent when he finds that the love of his life has slipped right through his fingers.

Things Fall Apart Reaction (2008?)

For all the difficulty that Okonkwo experiences enunciating each excruciating word, he retaliates with an aggressive nature and unrivaled strength. He doesn’t need to talk after he dominated one of the greatest wrestling matches of his backwards clan. When he couldn’t get his point across, he would “use his fists” to hammer home what he wished to say, battling for the respect and fear of his fellow clansmen. Ultimately, however, this aggressive attitude leads to Okonkwo’s demise as his family, fortune and home fall victim to his wrath. In a single, unplanned beating of one of his wives, he upsets both his family and his clan. He is exiled from the village and forced to return to his own family.
Okonkwo’s father was a lazy flute player, he is commonly characterized as, if not effiminate, then displaying many of the attributes of the women of their clan. Okonkwo’s contempt for his father and everything about him is a precursor to the driven man that he becomes. He desperately wishes to become a lord of his clan and though many discouraging events get in the way of this goal, he holds it sacred for the duration of the book. The cuture of Omuofia is such that women and children have very few rights. This prejudice is counterbalanced, however, with the word of ancient spirits. When Okonkwo accidently kills a boy, it is a feminine action, one less bad than unfortunate. Committed during the week of peace, however, his routine action is an affront to their greatest dieties.
Moreover, this follows his participation in the murder of his own adopted son. His actions are indicative of an aggressive personality that hinders his attempts to better himself. Ironically, he is rendered ineffective and practically as effiminate and useless as his own father, for whom he has perpetually held so much contempt. This is the great irony of Things Fall Apart.

Meeting of the Minds: Aldous Huxley- British Writer and International Idealist

Paul Fischer
Nov. 30, 2008
John Zimmerman
Meeting of the Minds: Aldous Huxley- British Writer and International Idealist
          “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley
            The “father of the hippie movement,” Aldous Huxley, wrote dystopian books through the twentieth century (Labin 250). Though he was born in England in 1894, he spent the most productive part of his life in America, where he helped found a counter-culture of anti-materialists. A large amount of the work Huxley did pursuing “liberty, peace, justice, and brotherly love” was written in the Mojave Desert in California (Murray 463). Huxley was best known for his impressive literary output, ranging from essays to novel, short stories, and even screenplays.  These writings rank among the very best of the English language’s political analysis, literature, and philosophy.  Huxley successfully redefined the way modern writers thought about both the novel, and the way society thought about power.
            Aldous Huxley’s decision to pursue a literary career was largely the result of contracting the disease keratitis punctata in 1911 at the age of seventeen. He would remain blind nearly until the beginning of the First World War. Until the illness, Huxley was studying at Eton College following learning from his father’s botanical laboratory (Murray 27). It is probable that he would have pursued a career in botany if he had not received what his brother, the distinguished biologist Julian Huxley, referred to as “a blessing in disguise.” Until the disease, Aldous might have pursued a career in biology as much of his family did; his grandfather, Thomas Huxley, was known as “Darwin’s bulldog” (1). Instead, he assumed responsibility and began to recognize his genius in its own right after leaving for college in Oxford by beginning several novels that viciously attacked the Edwardian lifestyle he had come to know and despise. Indeed, he believed that it was this very lifestyle that had led to the First World War, and would lead to another one. In this prediction, he was unfortunately proven correct.
            After his blindness, Aldous Huxley studied English Literature at Balliol College in Oxford (Murray 14). He graduated with honors in 1916 at the age of twenty-two. Unfortunately Huxley was heavily indebted to his father and was forced to earn a living. During these middle years he had several occupations including a job teaching French at Eton where one of his students was a young George Orwell (Murray 27). It would be fascinating to learn the extent of their relationship, as their novels deal with the ideas of political control over a society by elite classes. It is evident that Huxley’s writing gained a great deal of depth and inspiration from  Another job at the Brunner and Mond chemical plant supplied Huxley with an universe in a world of what he called “planless incoherence” that he later wrote of in his novel Brave New World (1932).
            In 1938 Aldous Huxley moved to Hollywood, California, beginning the most prolific and mind-expanding period of his life (Barron 31). In his time in California he became a proponent of the counterculture, and is referred to as the father of the “hippie” movement. While many of his greatest works were written during his stay in Hollywood, his cinematic endeavors were less successful. Indeed it seemed that he was completely unable to deliver the kind of action based dialogue that movie producers looked for in Hollywood in the middle of the century. While he received some credit for films including Jane Eyre (1944) and Pride and Prejudice (1940) his leisurely development of ideas was not well suited to Hollywood. Walt Disney rejected his screenplay of Alice and Wonderland, saying he “could only understand every third word.” (Shelfari)
            Following World War II, Aldous Huxley applied numerous times for citizenship in the United States but was refused on the grounds that he would not agree to take up arms in defense of the nation (Meckier 215). Another barrier to his application for citizenship was that his writing on the psychedelic experience was increasingly becoming early counter-cultural reading. While Huxley’s first psychedelic experience is believed to have been in the 1930’s, it was not until the 1950’s that his writing became heavily influenced by the use of psychedelics (Young 65). These writings would affect his legacy in both positive and negative manners; in any case, he was never known as one to rub shoulders with authority. He would continue to use and experiment with various mind-altering substances for the duration of his life.
          Huxley was diagnosed with cancer in 1960, only five years after the death of his wife, Maria from breast cancer (Murray 26). Most of the last three years of Huxley’s life was devoted to the writing of his final utopian book, Island (7). In this book and in lectures he gave at the Esalen Institute despite deteriorating health, Huxley laid groundwork for the Human Potential Movement, an early hippie movement that focuses on the self-actualization of members. He helped in the foundation and expansion of many similar projects not only through monetary funding, but also by delivering lectures to colleges, among them was the early Occidental College in California where Huxley eventually took up residence for the writing of many of his fringe works. Huxley’s tangible effects on society around him were not limited to the counter-culture groups he associated with in America, however, and a great part of the world mourned his death on November 22, 1963.
           Huxley’s death was actually overlooked by most of the media because of the extraordinary circumstances of November 22, 1963 (Kreeft 6). On the same day that Huxley, on his deathbed, requested of his wife “LSD, 100 μg, intramuscular” John F. Kennedy was shot and C.S. Lewis, an Irish author, died of renal failure (7). This coincidence inspired Peter Kreeft’s book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialogue Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley. In any case, Huxley had a relatively peaceful demise after his drawn out and bitter battle with cancer. Lasting for decades, this battle both inspired and overshadowed some of Huxley’s greatest work. Today, his work is taught in courses across the world in dozens of languages and his work is considered by many to be among the greatest of modern literature.
           Huxley is probably best known for his work concerning the expansion of American materialism (Watt 233). Brave New World (1932) deals with how society can just as easily be held captive by pleasure as fear. A literary theme he is less well known for, in America anyway, is his attacks on the Victorian and Edwardian social principles that led to World War I. Crome Yellow (1921) and Antic Hay (1923), both written in the early 1920’s following World War I, express a mood of disenchantenment, reflecting, as Huxley wrote, “the life and opinions of an age which has seen the violent disruption of almost all the standards, conventions and values current in the present epoch.” (Shelfari)
           Huxley successfully fused the novel and the essay together (Watt 2), his self-described aim as a novelist. He used this revolutionary writing style to attack foundations of a rapidly changing society. Brave New World and Island are the foundations for Huxley’s attack on technological commercialism. Because Huxley was successful in his attacks on modern society, many of his books were banned or met with disapproval. In fact, Antic Hay was actually burned in Cairo (9). While his early writing created uproar for Huxley’s graphic imagery and promotion of free thought in his fiction, Huxley would take a whole on a whole new level of outrage with his books written in the Mojave Desert.
          The books Huxley wrote in the Mojave Desert not only encouraged, but directly addressed the use of psychedelics. These books’ incendiary content not only set a new generation of beatniks alight, but also ignited fierce opposition in critics and even former fans of Huxley (Geiger 31). The Doors of Perception, for example, catalogues Aldous Huxley’s experiences directly after taking mescaline and other drugs. The psychedelic rock band, The Doors, actually used Huxley’s book for their name (Riordan 68). This ensured Huxley’s immortality as The Doors became popular soon after Huxley’s death and Jim Morrison became a legend of rock.
          Huxley continued through this time period to defend the Bates’ method. Although Bates was already exposed as a fraud, with no evidence as to his success other than a few very strong anecdotal cases such as Huxley (Murray 31). High profile individuals who swore by his method have made Bates surprisingly hard to get rid of despite the extensive research that suggests that Bates has little actual effect in a controlled study. While Aldous Huxley swore that he had regained most of his eyesight through the Bates’ method, there are numerous humiliating instances in which he was exposed as being unable to even read a speech off a piece of paper; rather than admit this handicap, Huxley would routinely memorize entire speeches and lectures. In particular, a personal friend described one humiliating experience at an acceptance speech in New Mexico where Huxley, who was delivering his speech admirably and was seemingly using his papers as reference, seemed to falter, squint at the paper, indeed it appeared he could not see it even as the paper was brought to his very nose (320). After a very painful minute Huxley fished out a magnifying glass and continued his speech. Remarkably, he had memorized the entire thing. Even after humbling experiences such as these, Huxley continued to stand by the Bates’ method.
          Along with Huxley’s extreme defense of the Bates’ method of curing eyesight, Huxley’s credibility as a British literary figure eroded. In Brave New World Revisited, for example, his unchecked attack on capitalist and communist societies alike left readers wondering where exactly he stood. What was once brilliant political analysis had deteriorated into conspiratorial drivel. He claimed that where he once thought Brave New World belonged in a setting seven hundred years in the future, he now believed it to be just around the corner (238). In the last decades before his death, his writing both intensified, gaining a stronger following, but also lost respect in the literary community.
“Aldous Huxley Author.” Shelfari. 6 July 2008. 15 Nov. 2008 . 
Barron, Stephanie, Sheri Bernstein, and Ilene Susan Fort. Reading California – Art, Image and Identity, 1900-2000. New York: University of California P, 2000.
Geiger, John. Chapel of Extreme Experience : A Short History of the Dream Machine. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 2004.
Kreeft, Peter. Between Heaven and Hell. New York: InterVarsity P, 1982.
Labin, Suzanne. Hippies, Drugs, and Promiscuity. Arlington: Arlington House, 1972.
Meckier, Jerome. Aldous Huxley Annual: A Journal of Twentieth-Century Thought and Beyond. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2007.
Murray, Nicholas. Aldous Huxley : A Biography. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2003.
            Riordan, James, and Jerry Prochnicky. Break on Through : The Life and Death of Jim Morrison. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Watt, Donald, ed. Aldous Huxley : The Critical Heritage. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Limited, 1975. 
Young, Warren R., and Joseph R. Hickson. LSD on Campus. Dell Pub. Co., 1966.

Problems with Hamlet and His Problems

Paul Fischer
John Zimmerman
     Problems with Hamlet and His Problems

    Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is among the greatest works of arts in the English language; for centuries the play has been rehearsed, performed and reviewed. The gloomy Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, is undoubtedly among Shakespeare’s greatest feats of characterization, appealing to audiences through his many human weaknesses, most notably his indecisiveness and inconsistency. At least this was the tragedy’s reputation for over three hundred years until a stinging critique by TS Eliot changed the way in which teachers and students looked at Hamlet forever.

    TS Eliot wrote the essay Hamlet and His Problems in 1920 as an attempt to redefine the manner in which critics looked at literary work. Right at the beginning of his essay, Eliot makes it clear that critics have failed in their attempts at critical insight, claiming they stretched their interpretation of the play “by the substitution—of their own Hamlet for Shakespeare’s.” (1) Rather than looking at Hamlet the play, former critics such as Coleridge and Goethe instead focused on Hamlet the character, who they easily identified with.
    The main argument is that, in fact, as a work of art, the play Hamlet fails completely. In order to prove this, Eliot invents a standard, the objective correlative, that never existed before. He defines the objective correlative as “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked” (7). For example, a writer who presents the audience with a thump outside a house, a scratching at the door, and a hideous scream would expect the audience to feel fear when the main character felt fear.
    Where Hamlet fails, Eliot writes, is that “Hamlet (the man) is dominated by an emotion which is inexpressible, because it is in excess of the facts as they appear” (7). Eliot goes on to suppose that Shakespeare finds himself in a paradox, as Hamlet’s disgust for Gertrude (his mother) is occasioned “because her character is so negative and insignificant that she arouses in Hamlet the feeling which she is incapable of representing.” If Shakespeare changed Hamlet’s character, there would be no plot, but as he made the mother even more despicable the play is rapidly exposed as illogical.
    Perhaps the most illogical part of Hamlet, however, is Hamlet’s complete disregard for the throne. To a contemporary reader, it would seem that an even greater offense than the murder would be Claudius’ usurping the throne. Yet only one line in the last act is devoted to resolving why Hamlet did not simply inherit the throne himself. Hamlet tells us in the last act that Claudius has “Popp’d in between the election and my hopes.” In fact, in 1600 when Hamlet was written, Denmark did not have a hereditary monarchy but actually held elections among a council of nobles. Claudius was elected to be king following his brother’s death. Certainly this must have been an unforgivable affront to Hamlet and his supporters.
    The “madness” of Hamlet is not, as Eliot writes, “the buffoonery of an emotion which can find no outlet in action” (8) but instead is the legitimate anger and confusion conflicting within Hamlet because of the horrendous crimes his mother and uncle have committed. When Eliot writes his criticism a difference was drawn between biological and foster parents so he is unable to feel the rage that Hamlet feels. He writes that “we must simply admit that here Shakespeare tackled a problem which proved too much for him,” (8) that Shakespeare was unable to artistically portray, with objective correlative, the intense emotion that Hamlet felt.
    This is where Eliot’s own logic falls apart. The objective correlative is among his greatest contributions to the literary community; it remains a standard for determining the artistic validity of many works, but Eliot failed in his own application of the objective correlative to Hamlet. The audiences of Shakespeare in the early 1600’s  would be able to feel the anger that Hamlet felt, for at that time marriage was binding, and Claudius was, in Hamlet’s mind, marrying his own sister after killing his brother. Indeed, this would have been viewed as a crime against God and Christianity, justifying Hamlet’s need to seek not just Claudius’ death, but also his eternal damnation. Eliot writes that Hamlet’s emotions are in “excess of the facts as they appear” (7). In fact, Hamlet’s emotions are precisely in keeping with the complete revenge which he not only expects, but which the audience expects. An Elizabethan audience would have felt aghast, not out of mere “adolescence,” but out of genuine hatred for the villain Claudius and contempt for the fool mother Gertrude.
    The burning passion for justice to be served is not portrayed disproportionately, rather Shakespeare accurately reflects Hamlet’s emotions. Eliot writes that Shakespeare cannot handle the “guilt of a mother” as he “handled the suspicion of Othello, the infatuation of Antony, or the pride of Coriolanus” (7). Eliot attempts in this to erase the validity of Hamlet as an artistic work and a failure in its attempt to convey a concrete emotion. He even attacks the consistency of the play, writing the he found, “Shakespeare’s Hamlet not in the action, not in any quotations that we might select, so much as in an unmistakable tone which is unmistakably not in the earlier play” (6). What the reader would be well advised to keep in mind, however, is that in the beginning of the play Hamlet did not know for sure that Claudius had murdered Hamlet’s father. Indeed, a modern viewer would be justified to express some concern over how quickly and rashly Hamlet affirms the guilt of his uncle.
    Eliot’s does have a point in this, that to a modern reader or viewer, there are multiple discrepancies in the play. Where an Elizabethan viewer would have been horrified with the marriage of Claudius and Gertrude, a modern viewer cannot be expected to feel the same way. Today we have a concept of uncles, aunts, and “in-laws.” At a time before a family member could be just “in-law” but not related by blood, Gertrude and Claudius are committing a horrible act of incest and every action of theirs would be viewed with suspicion. Eliot claims “the ‘madness’ of Hamlet lay to Shakespeare’s hand; in the earlier play a simple ruse,” (8) that Hamlet’s madness is merely a play on the audience as Shakespeare attempts to stretch a character over a much larger emotion. This is completely logical and lucid with a modern viewer in mind, but an Elizabethan viewer would understand that Hamlet’s madness was not merely a literary device, but an actual emotional reaction to the incest that was surfacing around him.
  It is with this viewer in mind that Shakespeare writes Hamlet, and therefore the play is vindicated as a work of art. Assuming, then, that Hamlet’s “madness” is no blunder of Shakespeare’s writing, but actually an important theme in the play, Eliot’s problems with Hamlet begin to evaporate, as the rest of his arguments fall by the wayside. To an Elizabethan audience, Hamlet, the gloomy prince of Denmark, resolved the issue of confused revenge, feeling appropriate suspicion of the incestuous couple, finding them to be in murderous wedlock, and acting with decisive vengeance, standing up for the throne that was bought out of his grasp and the familial honor that was stained by the hateful sexual relationship of his own blood.

Orwell’s IngSoc; Relevant to America?

Paul A. Fischer
April 6, 2008
Communications Skills
Mr. Zimmerman
Orwell’s IngSoc;
Relevant to America? 
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
(Elliot 1)
            Orwell wrote 1984 with the intention of exposing the corruption of socialism in Communist Russia. His story, which was all the more brave as it was written during the height of Stalin’s power, woke the free world to the dangers that lay behind the Iron Curtain in their newest ally. He warned against many different dangerous means that the Soviet Union abused to establish complete power and tyranny over its citizens.
            Today, in post 9/11 America, we are seeing many of these means used to achieve suspect goals. Through disinformation, brutal torture, and the marginalization of certain populations, the government seems to be following a dangerous route blazed by the USSR and illustrated by Orwell’s IngSoc. The question that must be answered is: how important is it that means similar to those employed by the USSR and IngSoc are being used in America, even though it is apparent that they are achieving unique values in each case? 
            “You are afraid,” said O’Brien, watching his face, “that in another moment something is going to break. Your especial fear is that it will be your backbone. You have a vivid mental picture of the vertebrae snapping apart and the spinal fluid dripping out of them. That is what you are thinking, is it not, Winston?” (Orwell 245)
            In the quote above, George Orwell expresses terror of a physical punishment. More importantly, his terror is of the powers that he fervently believed society would gain and abuse. It is logical, then, to question whether our own country, the United States, holds dear the same values as George Orwell’s IngSoc, from his book 1984. Orwell shows that when government ceases to exist in the present and seeks to change the past, similar means, such as censorship, torture, poverty, and fear, become instruments of achieving an oppressive government.
Past vs. Present Government
            George Orwell’s IngSoc, the oppressive government in 1984, held primary belief in the power of the past. In changing the past, they would control the future and present (Greenwald, 1). Nearly all actions of the thought police and Winston’s own job, as a government censor, were to ensure the pages of history could be forever altered to favor IngSoc. This was done to the point of pathological denial, as Orwell believed that the majority would be so confused that they would be unable to discern reality from fiction. The cognizant minority would be so engulfed in ignorance of other likeminded individuals, Orwell reasoned, that they would be relatively helpless to unite in revolution against the government.
            In strict contrast to IngSoc’s ability to achieve control, however, is the United States’ government that continues to use similar means to achieve a very different value from IngSoc, which primarily valued the past. While the means at times may seem similar, there is a distinct difference between Orwell’s IngSoc and the Federal Government . The best way to classify this difference is in terms of tenses. While IngSoc focused primarily on the past, it is safe to say that the US government is far too disorganized to work effectively in any fashion except the present.
Physical Torture and Police Brutality
          1984 details a snapshot of life in a totalitarian government that rises out of post-war London. George Orwell is terrified of an over reaching government, his greatest fear driving him into becoming the political force that he was. Individuals like him helped save our world from self destruction or, worse, dehumanization. Kellner refers to his idea of dehumanization as the Orwell nightmare. Equally as interesting, perhaps, is what motivated Orwell to support the socialist society that he was so critical of. In 1984, the government utilizes a number of criterions to change the unpleasant truth into an ideal past. The most significant and striking of these criterions, as shown at the top of the paper, is the necessity that brutal physical torture be exacted on individuals. Orwell clearly believes that the state could, through physical torture and coercion, force an individual to deny what he knew to be the truth. Even to believe in frank lies. “How many fingers am I holding up?” (Orwell 249).
            In America, there has been a history of physical abuse perpetrated by local and national governments. One of the more apparent manners of abuse is that of police brutality. An example of this is when over sixty baton wielding police officers used excessive violence in breaking up a crowd at Thurgood High School in San Francisco in 2002. While it’s true that horrifying police brutality does occur, and national trends such as racial discrimination do play a factor, it is safe to say that there is not a national conspiracy to use brutality to create a climate of fear. Because the police brutality is not systematic or in any way endorsed by the government (Civilians Need Protection 385), the climate of fear that Orwell predicted is not present in contemporary America.
Proletarian Society and Poverty
            In 1984 there is a large population of proletariats who are made up of individuals denied the few rights granted even to party members. Proles, as they’re known, live in widespread poverty and are afforded little security or comfort, furthermore they lack any sort of opportunities of ever escaping their entrenched lives (Orwell 72). The party members enjoy relative comfort and security at the price of their political freedoms, yet proles are not even allotted that. Indeed, Winston thinks to himself that if there is hope, it lies with the proles for they are so miserable and oppressed that surely they will one day rise up (69). This is reinforced when he sees a prole woman protesting the exposure of children to horrible, explicitly violent media (9) (she is quickly disposed of by the police). Indeed, members of a society economically oppressed to the point that they have nothing to lose will rise up; the Nazi takeover of Germany is sufficient evidence for this.
            In the United States, those below the poverty line are often oppressed and denied the same rights as their more wealthy counterparts. Indeed, it has been suggested that America may soon feel that sections of the population are expendable- too old, or sick, or poor, or disabled to contribute to society (Stephens 94). Between 1961 and 1971, the University of Cincinnati carried out a series of experiments on nearly 100 patients, two thirds of whom were African American and nearly all low-income, even single mothers who were supporting a family (49). These patients, some with only benign tumors or treatable breast cancer, were given full body radiation doses to the effect of a pilot flying through a nuclear cloud (35). Most died within 30 days (17), making it systematic murder, one that has been compared to Hitler’s Auschwitz camp on a smaller scale (83). This was the smallest of a series of similar experiments that were carried out with Department of Defense funds in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Nearly all of the patients in these experiments (thousands) died as a direct result of the radiation. Senator Mike Gravel, when asked about the University of Cincinnati radiation experiments remarked that, “This shows that the value of life is not held sacred, but is instead becoming cheaper.” (201)
Incidents like these make America seem similar to IngSoc. Rather than being oppressed to the point of revolution, however, the low income masses are not proles in that, while they may be prejudiced against by the government, who makes it harder to rise and often overly burdens the low with heavy taxes, there is no threat of basic needs being retracted from a significant population in America.
Censorship and Banned Books
                       George Orwell’s fear of society actually ended up strengthening society. That sounds like a crazy paradoxical paradigm that is confusing just to think about. Simply put, George Orwell warned against a self-perpetuating society that would feed upon itself until humanity was ultimately nonexistent. Children spied upon their parents, and nothing was taken as sacred, beyond the worshipped Big Brother (Orwell 133). This sort of indoctrination of children and disrespect for the natural virtues of humanity is best seen in Winston’s own job, as censor. His job was to satisfy the party’s fascination with the past and rewrite history so that no one in IngSoc would know about the wrongs perpetrated by the totalitarian government. In doing this, the party’s fixation on the past is made evident: rather than trying to prevent crisis or shortages, they preferred to attempt to deny the existence of said problems. Throughout 1984, Orwell makes it clear that such control of the government is wrong, and ought to be avoided.
            This image served the purpose of alerting nations globally to the dangers of such a society, and the effect of this literature can be seen in America.Where books that are considered subversive or damaging flourish, so does the tradition of freedom that is so important to a vital democracy.  While there is certainly an argument to be made that banned books and the government censorship that exists today in America is disturbingly similar to Orwell’s prophecy, it is better to realize that we do have the right to read 1984 itself, which, Tom Lovell points out, has been described as “pro-communist” and “sexually explicit.” Looking at the former USSR, however, we can see a nation that effectively censored books such as and including 1984 . The USSR’s cessation of basic rights ultimately led to the corrosion of a lifestyle that deteriorated until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
            “You’re only a rebel from the waist down.” (Orwell 156) Winston’s words strike a certain physical passion that has come to represent those who only wish to support change within certain parameters. Winston wishes that the pair could fully commit, beyond their sex games, to starting a revolution that would have a permanent effect on the party and Oceania as a whole. Ironically, it was only when both Julia and Winston fully commit that their little world of rebellion came tumbling down around them. In society, George Orwell is saying, there is an ignorance of the political and social sway of others. “It was all guesswork: very likely he had imagined it all.” (19) Although Winston wishes to kick off the revolution, it is impossible for him to know how much support he has. So instead of jumping to action, he is instead left to fear. His fear, combined with the fear of Oceania, allowed the oppressive government to maintain an iron grip over the individual, and decimate any shred of humanity left in citizens (215).
Conclusion of IngSoc vs. America
            Orwell’s 1984 is an example of political writing at its best. This is mostly thanks to his brilliant display and dissection of George Orwell’s very own personal fears. He felt the world changing and speeding towards a dangerous precipice. The technology, philosophy, and attitude of his generation are summed up in his miserable tale of hope squandered, love lost, and fear triumphant. This is not seen in the United States, which encouraged individuality and a counter culture revolution that was waged through largely peaceful protests for civil rights, political freedom, and free speech. John F. Kennedy said of the movement that, “Whoever makes a peaceful revolution impossible, makes a violent revolution inevitable.” The very success and existence of the movement speaks to the inability of America to squash the dissidents which keep society vigorous. Whether in the form of the CIA, or any other federal branch, no organization can squash American individuality. What Orwell shows in his book is that when government seeks to change the past, the same criterion, such as banned books, police brutality, poverty, and a climate of fear become instruments of achieving a grave value.
Works Cited
Bennett, Joshua. Orwell’s ‘1984’: Was Orwell Right? Sixth International Revisionist Conference. 1. 6 Apr. 2008 .
“Civilians Often Need Protection From Police, Lets Handcuff Police Brutality.” New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 15 (1998): 385.
Douglas, Kellner. “From 1984 to One-Dimensional Man: Critical Reflections on Orwell and Marcuse.” Eprints. Vt. 6 Apr. 2008 .
Eliot, T S. “Burnt Norton.” Tristan. 6 Apr. 2008 .
Gee, Harvey. “Police Brutality and Citizen Reports.” Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal (2004). 6 Apr. 2008.
Harris, Harold J. “Orwell’s Essays and 1984.” Twentieth Century Literature 4 (1959): 154-161.
Johnson, William C. “The State in 1984.” JASA 33 (1981): 36-41. 6 Apr. 2008 .
Jura, Jackie. “Why Orwell Wrote 1984.” Orwell Today. 2007. 6 Apr. 2008 .
Lovell, Tom. The Fall of the Soviet Union: Whys and Wherefores. Tomball College. 1. 6 Apr. 2008 .
Posner, Richard. “Orwell Versus Huxley: Economics, Technology, Privacy, and Satire.” Philosophy and Literature 24 (2000): 1-33.
Stephens, Martha. The Treatment: the Story of Those Who Died in the Cincinnati Radiation Tests. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Durham/London: Duke P, 2006.
Tomas, Venclova. “I Am Grateful to Orwell.” Index on Censorship 36 (2008). 6 Apr. 2008 .
Waitzman, Norman J., and Ken R. Smith. “Separate But Lethal: the Effects of Economic Segregation on Mortality in Metropolitan America.” The Milbank Quarterly 76 (1998): 341-373.
Wangh, Martin. “National Socialism and the Genocide of the Jews—a Psycho-Analytic Study of a Historical Event.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 45 (1964): 386-395.

[Marriage in Copperfield] 2006?

Paul Fischer

              Marriage is assuredly a great institution, but who wants to live in an institution? The confinement of spirit in marriage suggested in this joke is evident in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. David’s employer and former teacher, Dr. Strong was married to Annie, a much younger woman who eventually becomes philosophical aboiut her marriage and what is important in marriage when she states, “There can be no disparity in marriage as unsuitability in mind and purpose” (614). In this era, the wife is assumed to be the angel of the house. By this one means she is supposed to oversee the servants, cooking, shopping, and household matters as well as providing her husband with a perfect, moral companion. Dora is ill-suited to household duties and, more importantly, ill-suited as an intelligent companion and one might understand the terrible influence that Annie’s words make on David. David and Dora’s marriage is unlike that of the Strongs because of Dora’s mentioned unsuitability of mind and purpose with her husband, David.
              Every marriage forges its way through towering obstacles and how the Copperfields face these challenges displays much of their polarity with the Strongs. The Copperfields, inexperienced and without a faithful servant, are constantly faced with difficulties in housekeeping duties. When David attempts to draw Dora into her duties as the angel of the house, she simply exclaims, “Just kiss Jip, and be agreeable” (502). This exemplifies the Copperfields’ family discussions and constitutes a major difference with the Strong’s.
The Strong’s also faced considerable obstacles in their marriage. They have suspicion looming all about them when Annie’s old lover turns up and Mr. Heep attempts to convict the poor young Annie in the eyes of her father husband, Dr. Strong. Following this, the family of the Strong’s forgoes a long period of suspicion and lies. This is the terrible situation that Annie averts by so courageously standing up to Mr. Heep’s accusations, an act Dora, in Annie’s stead, would not undertake even if Dr. Strong had brought the matter before her and demanded she resolve the case
              Dora’s reluctance to assume any amount of responsibility results in the infamous attempt of David to “form Dora’s mind” (644). Dora has made a valiant but futile effort to conform to the strict rules of David’s reform attempt. Dr. Strong also “taught her” (Annie) and attempts to teach her. The difference between David’s futile attempt and Dr. Strong’s forming of a strong young lady is that Dr. Strong has taken Annie up as a daughter of sorts. David acts stern and much more assumes Mr. Murdstone’s threatening teaching style. This scares poor Dora out of her wits almost as it did David when he was a child. Fortunately David realizes that Dora needs support and perhaps, in the near future, the marriage shall succeed wonderfully.
              Marriage may not indicate the Copperfields’ insanity as might have been suggested in the joke but the Copperfield’s marriage does portray certain incompetence in fields such as housekeeping and the Copperfields’ inability to be suitable companions for each other. The Strongs, however, are a much better example of as well matched marriage for Annie is much better suited to thinking on Dr. Strongs level than Dora upholding an intelligent conversation with David. The Copperfields have illustrated a lack of suitability for marriage that should be considered before marrying because of the young fear in the “Sahara” or loneliness that David saw in his Aunt.

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